19 June 1799, the three days of battle at the Trebbia in Northern Italy ended with Russian Field Marshal Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov’s combined Russian and Austrian forces completely defeating the French under Jacques MacDonald.
“The three military arts. First - Apprehension, how to arrange things in camp, how to march, how to attack, pursue, and strike; for taking up position, final judgement of the enemy's strength, for estimating his intentions. Second - Quickness... This quickness doesn't weary the men. The enemy doesn't expect us, reckons us 100 versts away, and if a long way off to begin with - 200, 300 or more - suddenly we're on him, like snow on the head; his head spins. Attack with what comes up, with what God sends; the cavalry to begin, smash, strike, cut off, don't let slip, hurra! Brothers do miracles! Third - Attack. Leg supports leg. Arm strengthens arm; many men will die in the volley; the enemy has the same weapons, but he doesn't know the Russian bayonet. Extend the line - attack at once with cold steel; extend the line without stopping... the Cossacks to get through everywhere... In two lines is strength; in three, half as much again; the first breaks, the second drives into heaps, the third overthrows.” (Alexander Suvorov)
|A contemporary sketch of Cossack lancers charging at the Trebbia|
|N.A. Shabunin's imagination of Suvorov leaving his exile in the village of Kochanskoye to set forth for his last campaign (1903)|
|Adolf Charlemagne (1826 - 1901): "Ceremonial reception of Alexander Suvorov in Milan, April 1799" (1855)|
Over the next two months, Suvorov forced the French out of Italy by picking up their strongholds from the Po Valley south to Naples, Capua and Ancona and fought one last battle, against Joubert, at Novi in the Piedmont, in August 1799 and then the Russian genius was called up north to Switzerland to relief his colleague Rimsky-Korsakov, who was about to get soundly beaten by Masséna near Zürich. Suvorov came to late and with about 20,000 exhausted men left against Masséna’s 80,000, he opted for a strategic withdrawal towards Austria when winter was about to set in. And he imitated Hannibal again, fighting his way through the mountain passes of the snow-capped Alps, lost about 2,000 men but finally made it. “The Russian eagles outflew the Roman eagles”, he said and to this day a monument near the dramatic landscape of the Schöllenen Gorge and the aptly named Devil’s Bridge, where the Russians battled the French for the access towards St Gotthard Pass, remembers the epic feat. Naturally, jealous Tsar Paul ignored the carte blanche he had given to the conquering hero who returned home to Mother Russia and was about to exile him again over minor breaches of standing orders his imperial highness had issued meanwhile when the old soldier, tired to death, drew his last breath and died on 18 Mai 1800 in St Petersburg at the age of 69. It was just four weeks before Napoleon, who had, after conveniently forgotten his army in Egypt, returned to the Italian theatre and soundly defeated the Austrians at Marengo, undoing all of Suvorov’s successes achieved the year before. The French would occupy Italy until 1814 and Napoleon’s first abdication.
|Vasily Surikov (1848 - 1916): "March of Suvorov through the Alps" (1899)|
And more about the Battle of Trebbia on:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle of Trebbia